Rio Tinto acknowledged the release of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia’s interim report following its inquiry into the destruction of rockshelters at Juukan Gorge on the land of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Rio Tinto reiterates its apology to the Traditional Owners, the PKKP, and remains adamant that the destruction of the Juukan rockshelters should not have occurred. The destruction of the Juukan rock shelters was wrong; it should not have happened and it does not reflect the values that Rio Tinto aspires to.
Simon Thompson, Chairman of Rio Tinto, said “We recognise the destruction of the Juukan rockshelters caused significant pain to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and we are working very hard to progress a remedy with them. As a business, we are committed to learning from this event to ensure the destruction of heritage sites of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again. We have made important changes to the way we manage cultural heritage sites and our relationships with Traditional Owners, including a commitment to modernise our agreements. We recognise the importance of ensuring relationships with Traditional Owners are built on partnerships based on mutual benefit, respect and trust.”
Since the destruction of the rock shelters, Rio Tinto has worked with the PKKP on a rehabilitation programme for the Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 rock shelters and, with the PKKP, is assessing ways to protect the area for the future. This includes extending a mining moratorium around the Juukan Gorge and establishing a purpose-built facility to store artefacts discovered during heritage preservation works.
Rio Tinto has also introduced changes to ensure heritage sites of exceptional significance, like the Juukan Gorge rockshelters, are protected and preserved. These include: